MICE – growth strategies for boutique hotels

Toby Heelis of Eventopedia looks at some MICE engagement tactics that you might not have thought of.

Hotels generate most of their revenue from their bedrooms, right? Wrong. Today, the modern hotel of any size and at any location should have at least five revenue streams that all help to drive the other four. This means that if you are concentrating your marketing and enquiry conversion strategies on bedrooms you are missing out on increasing your other revenues streams and underperforming on the daily room revenue.

So many boutique hotels are too narrow on their marketing focus. “No budget for secondary revenue streams” I hear you say? This is irrelevant. Some of the most effective marketing and conversion strategies do not require thousands of pounds. I am not talking about event agencies either. Marketing is a collaborative process requiring many touch points to support the growth of any hospitality business. 

On average a boutique hotel will generate 20 to 30 per cent of its revenue from MICE but they often don’t measure the bedroom revenue that comes as a result of the MICE activity. Traditional MICE marketing will include many of the following:

• Third party listing sites
• Trade shows
• Agency familiarisation trips
• PPC and AdWords
• Paid advertising
• Social media and content marketing
• Public relations

Target the sectors that fit your property and that are growing as a whole in your region.  Any MICE sales and marketing professional knows that certain properties will appeal to a particular demographic of meetings and events client. Is there a growing industry sector in your region that fits your property?  Work it out first so that any activity is laser focused on generating enquiries from this sector. This will drive up conversion and keep cost of sales down.

Ideally you will have a proactive sales team of some sort. Use this resource well, aimed at the right sector, and you will see amazing results over a 12 to 18-month period. Work together with the senior management team to decide on the target sector so that you are all invested and aware.  This will help the proactive person with leads or opportunities but also help them feel part of the whole team. Business development can be tough and lonely so make them more of the team.  Remember, it will take some time and there are no magic beans.

Partnerships: your proactive resource should be identifying the partners in the local area that have access to some of your target market. Every company has a database of customers and if you can share resources and target these together you will save costs and benefit from the powerful referral energy. There will be some obvious partners but also less obvious ones that could help get your property to the top of the pile. While I was marketing director at The Brewery in the City of London (next to The Montcalm), we targeted finance-themed publications with the aim of getting exposure to the senior decision makers. These are not the direct event planners but when the venue is put in front of the senior decision maker, there will be some brand or product awareness that will win you the deal.

Social media is effective for bedroom and MICE revenue but so many hotels mix the messages of the leisure guest and the MICE business. Set up a separate MICE channel from the accommodation channel. Decide which social media channel you think could work for you.  Don’t try and have accounts across all mediums. I would suggest Twitter or Instagram, as imagery and concise messaging is so important in the MICE sector. Make your proactive person run the account – there is no need for an agency and don’t give it to reception.  If they don’t have confidence to run a social media account there are plenty of online resources to learn from. Keep the account active but don’t flood it with content. Keep it relevant and high quality. One well thought-out post a day is enough.

If you concentrate on channels that have the right audience, this will limit the activity costs and show a much higher ROI. Remember to set some sort of KPIs – measure where possible and your boutique hotel will be in a much better position to improve your engagement strategy with confidence.

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